Hospital on high alert over blood shortage ahead of festive season

Wednesday December 5 2018

A blood donor

A blood donor. Hospitals are on high alert and are stocking up their blood banks so as to have enough to deal with emergency cases during the coming December festive season. PHOTO | FILE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

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As we approach the festive season, hospitals in Nakuru have started experiencing blood shortage.

At the Nakuru Level Five Hospital, sources said the shortage had forced some patients to seek transfusion elsewhere.

Nakuru Town is located along the busy Nairobi-Eldoret highway which is the first emergency stop for road crash victims.

According to statistics from National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA), more than 2,750 people have lost their lives on the road this year.


According to the Nakuru Medical Superintendent Joseph Mburu, the shortage of blood for transfusion was experienced a week ago but he added that the situation has since been resolved.

“We could not carry out the transfusion about a week ago and patients who required the service had to get it from the transfusion headquarters in Nairobi. At the moment we have sufficient (blood) to cater for the needs of the patients,” said Dr Mburu.

Apart from road crash victims, other patients who require emergency blood transfusion include women during delivery and cancer patients.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) standards, a country is said to be blood-sufficient when at least one percent of its population donates blood once annually.


Nakuru County is home to more than two million residents but not even a quarter of the population volunteers to donate blood.

In Kenya, with an estimated population of more than 40 million, experts says the country needs at least 400,000 units of blood to claim sufficiency.

Kenya National Blood Transfusion Service (KNBTS) is charged with collecting, screening, processing and distributing the different components of blood that patients in transfusing hospitals around the country need.


National blood donor recruiter and public communications officer at the KNBTS Joseph Kamotho said they are already putting in place measures to ensure there is enough blood in their banks in their 24 centres across the country ahead of the festive season.

“During the festive season, we usually have a lot of risky behaviours where people drink and drive [while] others engage in violence. Thuggery is reported during this season and we have put measures to ensure no one suffers,” he added.

He noted that 80 percent of the blood comes from schools and therefore the levels go low during the holidays.


Mr Kamotho said they are now holding public blood donations drives targeting the adult population so as to ensure there is sufficient of blood in hospitals.

“We are not anticipating any crisis just like in 2017, October to December where we had 32,000 units of blood [which] was sufficient to run through the period,” said Mr Kamotho.

He said part of the drive includes working with other government agencies which include NTSA.

He appealed to Kenyans to volunteer and donate blood so as to save lives when need arises.